Senate debates

Monday, 10 September 2012

Bills

Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining Development) Bill 2012; In Committee

12:53 pm

Photo of Bill HeffernanBill Heffernan (NSW, Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source

Clearly, this is evidence—and I have studied this for a long time—of what I said earlier in the day, that this legislation would be good if it got the right set of teeth, but as it is it is designed, as the minister—not Minister Burke, another minister—said, to make sure the Commonwealth does not own the problem. That is all it is about. You can take as much advice as you like, but you do not have to act on it and the states can do whatever they like. Sure, we need the advice and, as Senator Colbeck has pointed out, we do not really know what is going on with the aquifer. It would be good if this brings forward some science, because the CSIRO does not even know. The CSIRO tells the Senate committee: 'It could take 400 years to rebalance the aquifer, but we do not really know. And we do not know why the Springbok and Walloon aquifers were contaminated and we do not know why those cattle—'. There is actually a bore drain south of Mount Isa that is running blue water, but they do not know why.

The one thing we do know is that the Commonwealth does not want to own the problem. This legislation could be good legislation if the Commonwealth accepted responsibility for the problem, but they do not. The responsibility for the problem is with the states and this legislation ensures it stays there.

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